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In THE ROLL-CALL OF THE REEF, by Arthur Quiller-Couch, the speaker, a cavalryman, is talking to a little Marine:

"'And that was very well done, drummer of the Marines. What's your name?'

"'John Christian.'

"'Mine's William George Tallifer, trumpeter, of the 7th Light Dragoons—the Queen's Own. I played 'God Save the King' while our men were drowning. Captain Duncanfield told me to sound a call or two, to put them in heart; but that matter of 'God Save the King' was a notion of my own. I won't say anything to hurt the feelings of a Marine, even if he's not much over five foot tall; but the Queen's Own Hussars is a tearin' fine regiment. As between horse and foot 'tis a question o' which gets the chance. All the way from Sahagun to Corunna 'twas we that took and gave the knocks—at Mayorga and Rueda and Bennyventy.' (The reason, sir, I can speak the names so pat is that my father learnt 'em by heart afterward from the trumpeter, who was always talking about Mayorga and Rueda and Bennyventy.) 'We made the rearguard, under General Paget, and drove the French every time; and all the infantry did was to sit about in wine-shops till we whipped 'em out, an' steal an' straggle an' play the tom-fool in general. And when it came to a stand-up fight at Corunna, 'twas we that had to stay sea-sick aboard the transports, an' watch the infantry in the thick o' the caper. Very well they behaved, too; 'specially the 4th Regiment, an' the 42d Highlanders, an' the Dirty Half-Hundred. Oh, ay; they're decent regiments, all three. But the Queen's Own Hussars is a tearin' fine regiment. So you played on your drum when the ship was goin' down? Drummer John Christian, I'll have to get you a new pair o' drum-sticks for that.'

Now the discussion was between a cavalryman and a marine, so why does he compare his regiment to infantry troops? And what's exactly meant by "As between horse and foot 'tis a question o' which gets the chance"?

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    He means "In some battles it happens that the cavalry get to play the larger part, in some it's the infantry - it's just a matter of chance." Commented Jun 10 at 9:45
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    It's quite possible that, at the time, the marines were regarded as a subclass of infantry.
    – Peter Shor
    Commented Jun 11 at 17:35

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I think the trumpeter is comparing the cavalry with the infantry because they were the two types of soldiers in service at the time, and so were natural rivals. Marines were sea-going soldiers, but if they had to fight on land it would of course be on foot.

He means "In some battles it happens that the cavalry get to play the larger part, in some it's the infantry - it's just a matter of chance."

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